Who was the 5th Member of The Beatles?
Posted on March 10, 2016
As it was announced yesterday morning that the fifth member of The Beatles, George Martin, had died, my first thought was, “Oh that’s a shame!” whilst my second was, “Wasn’t Pete Best the fifth member of The Beatles?”
I racked my brain to try to remember why I had digested such useless and apparently wrong information and I eventually concluded that my source was actually Davenport Nice and Mike Smash, the fictional DJ’s from Radio Fab FM, a spoof radio show created in the early 90’s by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse.
Nothing sticks in your head quite like an Enfield/Whitehouse character and stored in my brain (in the disturbingly large, useless information department) is a Fab FM pop trivia quiz where Smashie, the quiz master, asked the following question.
“Who was known as the fifth member of The Beatles…was it Pete Best…Pete Beale…or Jeremy Beadle?”
From thereon Pete Best was always my fifth Beatle even if he was invented as one by fictional characters, who by the way, should really consider a comeback as part of an Operation Yew Tree spoof.
In their 1994 farewell documentary, ‘End of an Era’, Dave Nice has a young boy turning up in the background of his mansion several times in just a dressing gown or in the bath (first seen at 4 mins 45 secs on the video below) so it does make you realise that in the eyes of many comedians, Radio One DJ’s were shrouded in suspicion long before they were caught.
So anyway, George Martin was 90, which would have made him a very old 5th Beatle but from what I have read, it was his genius as a producer that took The Beatles to new levels of artistic creativity that could not have been achieved without him, which is some testimony.
Of course, I never met George Martin, but I have met Chris Thomas who worked on the White Album when George Martin went away on a long holiday. In fact I met Chris Thomas a few times in his Hampshire pub and he was an unassuming chap who could boast about (but never did as far as I know) also working with Pink Floyd, The Sex Pistols, Roxy Music, Elton John, Pulp, INXS and The Pretenders amongst others.
However, I never asked Thomas about his time with The Beatles after a friend showed me extracts from a book where one of the ‘Fab Four’ (Paul McCartney I think?) was quoted as saying something very offensive about him that I won’t mention in a blog post…although I would argue, not as offensive as McCartney’s next band, Wings, who tarnished the music industry with singles such as ‘Jet’ and ‘Band on the Run.’
Perhaps Chris Thomas produced those as well in an act of revenge?
“No, honestly Paul, they sound just great (mirth, mirth).”
Thomas has previously claimed that he played on five songs from the White Album including, ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’, ‘The Story of Bungalow Bill’ (mellotron), ‘Long, Long, Long’ (piano) ‘Savoy Truffle’ (piano) and ‘Piggies (harpischiord).
As the album does not include song-by-song musician credits (The Beatles and George Martin also played keyboards on many tracks) it is not possible to definitely state which of Chris Thomas’s performances were included on the final mixes; however, most music geeks suggest that he definitely featured on three of them.
Judging by the track names, there must have been hallucinogenic drugs flying around all over the place, so I guess no one really knows who played what; it must all be a bit of a haze to those involved. What is known is that Musicians Union archives show that Chris Thomas was paid for four tracks, meaning by my reckoning, I have met the sixth Beatle.
In summary, I have discovered two things since reading about George Martin, Chris Thomas, The Beatles and Smashie & Nicey, the first being that The White Album is an absolutely cracker.
I was not aware of this because on one of the first albums I ever bought as a kid (London Calling by The Clash) Joe Strummer sung “phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust” which coupled with hearing ‘Mull of Kintyre’ until my ears bled a few years earlier, made me and most of my friends, assume that The Beatles must have been a bunch of tossers.
Secondly, by watching ‘Smashie & Nicey, The End of an Era’ I realised that virtually everyone at the BBC knew about the sex offenders on entertainment shows like ‘Top of the Pops’ but with little power to do anything about it, all they could do is make jokes about them that seem so obvious in hindsight. Was this an attempt to trigger suspicion in the hierarchy without get sued by the likes of Savile?
I always wondered why Dave Lee Travis hated Harry Enfield so much but now I know it is because the truth is painful, even when it is rears its ugly head for the purposes of comedy. If you grew up listening to Radio One DJ’s in the 70’s and 80’s, ‘End of an Era’ is, twenty odd years after its production, still great viewing for all manner of reasons; it’s all on YouTube.
I will leave yo with this spoof of Davenport Nice interviewing The Beatles…wonderful stuff!